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Today has been one of those days.  Is it Monday?  It feels like a Monday.  Oh, wait.  When I was a kid, Wednesdays were worse than Mondays.  Wednesday was the day I had ballet.  ::shudder::

On days like this, it is hard to remember my dreams and hopes.  It is far to easy to wallow around in the mud.

But I’m going to take a deep breath and look up.  Deep breath in.  Deep breath out.

And I am going to remember that I am His.  Perfection belongs to God.  Deep breath in.  Deep breath out.

I am going to remember what I am working for.  Deep breath in.  Deep breath out.




There’s a sketch on Sesame Street: Grover demonstrates the difference between near and far by running back and forth breathlessly until he collapses into a dramatic, Grover-ian heap. I don’t know why this sketch popped into my head; maybe it’s because I’ve been pondering the notion of God’s nearness…and far-ness. Turns out, it’s got me every bit as addled as poor, exhausted Grover.

Sometimes God seems very near — even uncomfortably near. At the best of times, this nearness is like a warm blanket of hope and reassurance. It can quite simply impart the ability to go on, especially during dark times. But sometimes, that same nearness makes me squirm as if I’m wearing an itchy wool sweater (or possibly an itchy wool straitjacket). God is calling me on the carpet. God is asking that I get real with myself and deal with a situation that I’d rather run from. God is near, and God knows me. There’s no place to hide.

Then there’s the feeling, sometimes quite pronounced, that God is far away. God has left me alone to suffer. God has not provided a solution to my troubles. I am lost and God is not showing me which way to turn. It’s all too much to bear by myself.

Maybe it’s because I struggle with nearness and far-ness in my physical being. I remember the first time I heard about people who prefer that others not invade “their space.” It was a revelation. It was normal, after all, to not want acquaintances to touch me or impinge on my “bubble.” Yet I also consider myself a “touchy-feely” type. If I like you, I will touch your arm as we talk. I will hug you every time I see you. I hold hands whenever I’m with someone I love especially much.

Whatever my personal hang-ups, I know that others struggle with God’s proximity every bit as much as I do. It seems none of us can get a handle on just where God is — in God’s heavens? Wherever two or more are gathered? Is Jesus the cuddly Good Shepherd or the guy who rowed out to sea or went into the desert just to get as far away as possible from the crowds?

Near. Far. God is both, sometimes at the same time. Prayer can draw God nearer. Our own fear can seem to drive God away. I suspect that God is where God always is, all the time — everywhere. We simply don’t realize how near everywhere can be.

I don’t tend to think of myself as an abnormally hopeful person.  I’m a bit too sarcastic or so I’ve always believed.

Then I had a really strange conversation with a group of friends.  Everyone was talking about the things going on in their lives.  Sick parents.  In-laws in the hospital.  Kids in trouble with the legal system.  The list went on and on.

“What about you?”

“What about me? I guess I’m just lucky.”

“What do you mean you’re lucky.  Our moms are still alive.  Yours died really young.  Your dad had a stroke…”

Apparently, my list goes on and on too.  But oddly enough I don’t think of myself as unlucky although I do sometimes get fed up.  Just ask my family about that.  Still, most of these things are just life so I might as well be hopeful.

After all, if Bishop Tutu could be hopeful, I think I can swing it at least a few days a week.

Hmm.  That sounded a touch sarcastic.  Apparently I can do both at the same time.




People are a strange.  It seems like one moment they are ignoring ugly realities and the next they are dwelling on the negative.

But when we face fact, hope can make a huge difference.  I’ve been doing a lot of reading the past few weeks about various animal species and the environment.  I can already hear your groaning but stop.  Seriously.  Knock it off.  Because there are stories of hope.

At one point the Bald Eagle was endangered but when we faced the damage that DDT was doing and banned it that was the beginning.  Eagles have made a comeback and I occasionally see one soaring over our church.

The American alligator is another success story.  This one was endangered because of habitat destruction and hunting.  People conserved habitat and hunting was banned.  Alligators are no longer endangered.

Reality and hope.  Working to make a better world.  God gave us inquiring minds as well as drive.  We just need to apply them.


I think there’s a reason most of us don’t know the future.  If we did, would we act?  Or would we react?

When we act, we reason things through. Then we choose the best possible path.

Reaction means that someone or something else is driving our decisions.  Don’t like what I see down that path, I’ll go this way instead.  Its less thought out.  Less balanced.

When we follow God’s path, we need to act, to plant trees, to bake bread, to lead.


There are always going to be problems in this world.  Like Miss Ruth pointed out, they will always be there and we might as well view them as projects.

But there are things that need to change – issues of inequality and justice and poverty.  There are the problems that accompany tragedies like fire and hurricane.

None of these things will be solved immediately.  But, step-by-step, progress can be made as we move toward the horizon.  Faith and hope, people.  Faith and hope.



This week our church is launching a new program.  We are serving a community dinner on Thursday night.  It is for anyone who wants to come – members of the community who need a meal or anyone who simply wants to dine with other people.

But we have to be ready for walk ins and we have no clue how many people will come.  Not surprisingly, this is inducing anxiety in a lot of people.

How do we know we aren’t just going to prepare food no one wants?  Food waste is a huge problem.

How do we know that we will have enough?  How embarrassing it would be to run out.

Faith and hope.  It may take us some time to have an impact on our community.  It may take a few months until we have some idea how much to prepare.  Hope and faith.

And spaghetti.



As Christians we are the children of hope.  Run through the halls of this hope!



Thunder and storms.  That’s what our area is experiencing today.  That last thunderclap actually rattled the roof.

It’s hard not to wish the rain away.  I’d rather be doing some weeding and prepping my garden for spring.  But rain is necessary for those spring plantings to grow – the basil and thyme I have sprouting in here on my windowsills.

Hope and positive thoughts are  much the same way.  Today may not be my ideal day, but I can carry that small light for tomorrow.

God sends the rains but he also sends the spring blossoms.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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